Paralegal Degrees Online
Paralegals are an important part of any law firm or legal department’s staff. Sometimes referred to as legal assistants, paralegals perform tasks such as legal and fact research, drafting pleadings, contracts, correspondence, and other documents, records management, trial preparation, client communication, and many other types of substantial legal work.
A recession proof career
In the current recession, many law firms and other paralegal employers (such as corporations and non-profit organizations) are increasing their use of paralegals. Paralegals are able to perform many of the same job duties as lawyers, but at a much lesser cost to their employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,) the paralegal field is expected to grow faster than average in the next few years. The BLS also states that candidates with a formal paralegal education will have the best job prospects. There are numerous different types and formats of paralegal degrees available to those who are interested in a paralegal career.
Many of those who are considering becoming a paralegal are transitioning from other careers, or have family responsibilities that hinder their ability to attend traditional on-site classes. That, along with the fact that paralegal studies consist in large part of research, writing, and computer skills, has led to an increasing number of paralegal educational programs being offered entirely online.
What are the main differences between a Bachelor's Degree, An Associates Degree and a Paralegal Certificate?
The completion of any paralegal program usually results in the student being awarded one of three things: a Bachelor’s degree, an Associate’s degree, or a paralegal certificate.
- Paralegal Bachelor’s degrees take around four years to complete and entail enrolling in a number of general education courses as well as paralegal-related classes. Those who are interested in pursuing a paralegal Bachelor degree online may have slightly fewer choices than those considering Associate’s degrees or paralegal certificates, but there are certainly programs available. Some schools offer paralegal studies as a concentration within another degree, such as criminal justice.
- Paralegal Associate’s degrees can usually be completed in around two years, and can be a good choice for someone who’s unsure if they want to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. If an Associate’s degree is obtained, it’s likely that those credits will apply to a Bachelor’s degree earned at a later time. There are a number of paralegal Associate’s degrees available online.
- Paralegal certificates are offered by a wide variety of institutions, from solely online schools, to prestigious universities. Some can be completed in as little as weeks, while others require a Bachelor’s degree (in another subject) and can take up to two years to finish. Those who would like to become a paralegal online will have the largest number of choices if they consider paralegal certificate programs.
Things to consider when undertaking a paralegal program
It’s important to carefully consider several things when deciding on a paralegal degree online, including cost, length of time the program will take to complete, internship/practicum requirements, any job placement assistance available, and qualifications of the instructions. In addition, some programs are “ABA-accredited,” meaning that they meet certain standards and have passed an evaluation process implemented by the American Bar Association.
The growing paralegal field can provide a great career opportunity for someone who is seeking a fast-paced, interesting job. The plethora of educational programs that are available, including the numerous online paralegal program options, assures that nearly anyone can find a program that meets their needs in terms of lifestyle and career goals.